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Kim McCullough

Need for minority organ, eye and tissue donors remains high

August is National Minority Donor Awareness Month; Illinois and northwest Indiana join the nation in honoring minority donors, highlighting the need to increase diversity in donor pool

ITASCA, Ill. – Minorities continue to make up nearly six out of every 10 people waiting for life-saving organs in the U.S. and only three in 10 are registered organ, eye and tissue donors, underscoring the need to raise awareness during National Minority Donor Awareness Month.

Each August, Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network and its donation partners and advocates join Donate Life America and the Association for Multicultural Affairs in Transplantation (AMAT) to observe National Minority Donor Awareness Month in Illinois and northwest Indiana. The “One Voice, One Vision… to Save and Heal Lives“ campaign honors the life-saving gifts and legacies of minority donors and works to improve community health by sharing the facts about donation and encouraging registration and family conversation.

While donated organs are not matched with recipients according to race or ethnicity, compatible blood types and tissue markers – critical qualities for donor and recipient matching – are more likely to be found among members of the same ethnicity. The chance of long-term survival for transplant recipients may be greater if the donor and recipient share a similar genetic background. A greater diversity of donors can increase access to transplantation for everyone.

In addition to raising awareness about the need for organ and tissue donation, improving disease prevention and access to care is critical to preventing the need for transplants. Multiple health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, liver disease, kidney disease and heart disease as well barriers to care disproportionately affect African American and Hispanic communities. When people don’t receive preventative care and early treatment, they become more likely to someday experience organ failure and require an organ transplant.

“The hospitals, partners, families and individuals we work with throughout Illinois and northwest Indiana are making the difference in our mission to help save the lives of as many people as possible through organ, eye and tissue donation,” said Harry Wilkins, MD, Gift of Hope President/CEO. “In our communities of color where the need is greatest, we are saving lives. During National Minority Donor Awareness Month, we particularly celebrate those lives saved and honor the legacies of all those who have given the gift of hope through saying yes to donation.”

Saying yes to being an organ, eye and tissue donor means the world to those waiting for a chance at life. One donor can save up to eight lives, restore sight in up to two people through eye donation and heal more than 25 people through tissue donation.

Offer hope to those waiting for a transplant:

  • Learn more and register your decision to save lives at Discuss donation and your wish to leave a legacy with your family.
  • Spread the word during National Minority Donor Awareness Month: Share information in your community, or on your website and social media. Visit for more details.


About Gift of Hope

Gift of Hope is the not-for-profit organ procurement organization (OPO) that coordinates organ and tissue donation and provides public education on donation in Illinois and northwest Indiana. As one of 57 OPOs that make up the nation’s organ donation system, Gift of Hope works with 180 hospitals and serves 12 million people in its donation service area. Since 1986, its work has saved the lives of more than 26,000 organ transplant recipients and improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of tissue transplant recipients. For more information, visit